A theoretical and critical analysis of elite circulation in political offices with examples and commentaries from the Brazillian context.
This paper discusses theoretically and critically the meaning, more specifically, the instrumentality of elite circulation to the democratic regime´s effectiveness. It pays atention to the particular form elite circularity in political offices affects the democratic system. In what form is elite circulation significant to the democratic system? To liberal pluralists, it is assumed that the composition of the political elite, by deriving from periodic free and fair elections, will spur the necessary dynamics for building-up the democratic regime. Competitive elections are considered the rudimentary bases of qualitative elite circulation, productive of representativeness and conducive to effective public policies that favor the democratic regime. However, just as this does not inform variances in the quality of elite circulation over time and space, it does not necessarily produce the elite typology relevant for social change. By staking on elections as threshold for elite renovation, the liberal pluralists fail to pay due attention to real diferences about elite innovation across time and space. The role of a continuously innovative leadership is also omitted. These omissions have attracted critiques, especially from classical and contemporary critical elitists who highlight incongruencies between liberal pluralist propositions and practices. For example, the crises of representation actually afflicting the Brazilian polity is no less a big challenge to the plausibility or workability of pluralist postulates. It is argued in this paper that for the democratic system to function effectively, elite circulation is crucial, not simply in terms of membership renovation but very importantly character and conduct innovations. The critical method is employed for exposing the dynamics and contradictions of power relations that shape variably elite circulation and by extension the political system. IlIustrative examples with indicative data are drawn from the Brazillian context. The paper is structured in six parts. The introduction is followed by the characterization of elites and political elites. The third conceptualizes elite circulation by exposing its democratic and critical perspectives. The fourth portrays elite circulation as phenomenon informed by elite taxonomy, democratic state, political system and society. While the fifth depicts the limits of elite circulation vis-à-vis liberal pluralist theory, the sixth is the conclusion.